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The extraordinary power of images

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 29 Dec 2012, 17:53


Fig. 1. End of Year 2012 Ante-smoking TV commercial and campaign

If you find the current anti-smoking ads powerful, in which a cigarette grows a life-like tumour as it is smoked, then imagine what the word 'disembowel' conjures up?

I do not suggest that you Google the word as I did wanting to correct my spelling 'disembowl' - which, if correctly defined might mean nothing more challenging that taking a bowl out of a cupboard, or away from a child who is playing with their breakfast.

I deliberately offer neither a link, nor an image.

It shocked me that even I could so naively stumble upon a gallery of such horrific proportions that includes CCTV footage of road accidents and the aftermath of murders, killings and war zone collateral damage. I am now forever damaged. My mind will run amok with these images forever - to scrub them would require cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnosis.

If I ever need to put my teenage children off the idea of riding on a motorbike, or getting a motorbike of their own I know what Google search will will put them off, potentially keep them off a pedal bike too. I've now seen what happens when a truck hits a stationary motorbike that is waiting to take, in this instance, a left turn off the main road.

I believe in the power of images - for advertising and for learning purposes.

I believe that the more genuine the image, however contrived and constructed, in its appropriate context - the more memorable the facts, events and circumstances are as a force to inform or educate. I believe also that where this image is animated, live or as live video, with both visual and auditory clues, the more powerful it becomes.

The police don't show reconstructions of traffic accidents to drunk or reckless drivers - they show them the real thing.



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Bren P

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Ah, but the issue is that teens have been sensitised to such issues - where we haven't. Tom & Jerry once a week was about as violent as it ever got.....

My BiL broke his back as a teen, as the result of driving like a dick on a motorbike, my eldest cannot transfer this attitude to his car. Like other teens, he thinks he's invincible.

Graphic images mean very little to those who witness it constantly on near real-life video games, not that I think that video games are the pits - I just did an PG EMA on the benefits of!

Design Museum

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Yes, I had this discussions moments ago with my son. He was kind of open about stuff he will have seen - at least as far as YouTube out takes of tricks gone wrong on motorbikes that have resulted in injury. And we talked about how much his generation are exposed to that makes his parents look niave. For the most part they do form a sensible opinion because their experiences and what they come across is 'socialised' and in context - they talk to their friends, their friends siblings dip in and yes, words of wisdom and ignorance from the rest of us is chucked into the mix. We still have very elderly relatives who know what it is like to face death for days and weeks on end (Warsaw Uprising, POW, concentration camp internees on release or as moved ... ) and my own grandfather, long gone, survived as a witness to 20 months of first hand experience in the trenches of the Western Front as a machine gunner - he spared me the detail when I sat on his knee as a six year old, but as a 30 year old recording his memoir he was happy to elaborate the memory vivid enough for him to break down in tears 75 years after the events. The danger is always the person who is not 'socialised' in the community and so their views can be tempered by advice ... or if that person's views are going way out of line they are somehow brought to the attention of social services or some such before they find weapons and go out to play not-so-merry havoc.